|London Irish Rifles|
Crest of the London Irish Rifles
|Part of||London Regiment|
|Garrison/HQ||Duke of York's Headquarters (1912-2000)|
Flodden Road, Camberwell (2000-Present)
|Motto(s)||Quis separabit? "Who shall separate us?"|
|Anniversaries||St Patrick's Day (17 Mar)|
Loos (25 Sep)
|Honorary Colonel||Major-General Sir Sebastian John Lechmere Roberts KCVO OBE|
|Tartan||Saffron (pipers kilts)|
|Hackle||St Patrick's Blue Hackle worn by Officers, Warrant Officers and Pipers. Dark Green Hackle worn by all other ranks.|
The London Irish Rifles (LIR) was a volunteer rifle regiment of the British Army with a distinguished history, and now forms 'HQ Company' (London Irish Rifles) of the London Regiment and is part of the Army Reserve.
The London Irish Rifles was originally formed in 1859 during the Victorian Volunteer Movement and named 28th Middlesex (London Irish) Rifle Volunteer Corps. During the Second Boer War, the battalion sent eight officers and 208 private soldiers for active service. Captain EG Concannon won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). In recognition of their service, the London Irish was granted their first battle honour, "South Africa, 1900-1902".
The 1st battalion was mobilised in August 1914, at the start of the First World War at the Duke of York's Headquarters. It landed at Le Havre as part of the 5th London Brigade in the 2nd London Division. The 2nd battalion landed in France in June 1916 in the 180th Brigade in the 60th (2/2nd London) Division. The 2nd battalion served on the Salonika front from December 1916 to June 1917 and then join the Egyptian Expeditionary Force for the advance to Jericho.
At the Battle of Loos, the 1st Battalion LIR particularly distinguished itself. While storming across No-Man's Land to capture the enemy trenches, Rifleman Frank Edwards, the Captain of the football team, kicked a football along in front of the troops as they approached the German lines. Some 1,016 London Irishmen were killed during the conflict.
After the cessation of hostilities, the LIR was reduced to cadre strength, before being disbanded in May 1919 at Felixstowe. In February 1920, the 18th (County of London) Battalion of the London Regiment (London Irish Rifles) was reconstituted as a component of the 47th (2nd London) Infantry Division of the new Territorial Army, and in 1923, the designation of the Regiment was shortened to 18th London Regiment (London Irish Rifles).
In 1937, when the London Regiment was disbanded, the unit became known as London Irish Rifles, the Royal Ulster Rifles. After the 47th Division was also disbanded, the London Irish transferred to the 169th (3rd London) Infantry Brigade, part of 56th (1st London) Infantry Division.
In April 1939, the establishment of the Territorial Army (TA), the British Army's part-time reserve, was doubled in size and the 2nd Battalion, London Irish Rifles was reformed, initially as a component unit of the 4th London Infantry Brigade, part of the 2nd London Infantry Division which was a 2nd Line duplicate of the 1st Line 1st London Infantry Division.
The 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion, a Young Soldiers unit of the London Irish Rifles, was also formed, early in 1940, and set up for young men volunteering who were between the ages of eighteen and nineteen and a half. The objective of the battalion was to train the soldiers to the highest standard of drill, skill-at-arms, discipline and turnout in preparation for the time when they would, in theory, be fit to take their place within the 1st and 2nd Battalions. The 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion ceased to exist in January 1943, when all such units were disbanded.
A company of the 1st Battalion was involved in the Battle of Graveney Marsh, in September 1940 the last ground combat between a foreign invading force and British troops that happened on British mainland soil.
The 1st Battalion, London Irish Rifles formed part of the 1st London Infantry Brigade, itself part of the 1st London Division. In November 1940 the battalion transferred to the 2nd London Brigade, which was soon renumbered as the 168th (London) Infantry Brigade, due to the division's redesignation as the 56th (London) Infantry Division. From the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 until late July 1942, the battalion was in training, mainly in southeast England. The battalion left England in August 1942 to serve in the Middle East. In April 1943 the battalion, together with the rest of the 168th Brigade, was temporarily transferred to the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division and fought in the Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, in July/August. The battalion, as part of the 168th Brigade, returned to the 56th Division in Italy in October, and took part in major actions during the Italian Campaign at Fosso Bottacetto south of Catania, Monte Camino, Monte Damiano, the Garagliano crossing during the first Battle of Monte Cassino and Aprilia (Anzio), and at the Gothic Line, and, transferring back to the 167th Brigade, the battalion played a leading role in the final Allied offensive in Northern Italy during April 1945. In the month that they spent fighting in the Anzio beachhead, the 1st Battalion's casualties totalled 600 officers and other ranks killed, wounded and missing. Some 700 men of the London Irish Rifles were killed in action during the Second World War.
The 2nd Battalion formed part of the 38th (Irish) Brigade, initially as part of 6th Armoured Division and later within the 78th Battleaxe Division, a division with an excellent reputation, and was in front line service from November 1942 to May 1945 throughout Tunisia and Italy including taking part in major actions at Bou Arada, Heidous, Centuripe, Termoli, Sangro River, the Liri Valley, Trasimeno, Monte Spaduro and at the Argenta Gap. The battalion garrisoned parts of Austria in the immediate post-war period. During the final offensive in Italy the battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel H. E. N. Bredin.
After the war, the battalion re-formed as a battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles. In 1967, with the disbanding of the London Regiment, the three Irish Regular Infantry Regiments combined to form The Royal Irish Rangers, and the London Irish Rifles became D Company (London Irish Rifles), 4th Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers, remaining so until the re-formation of The London Regiment in 1993.
Since 1993 and the incorporation of the London Irish Rifles as a company of the London Regiment, soldiers from the London Irish Rifles have served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Cyprus. During Operation Telic, the company contributed to the formation of Cambrai Company (Operation Telic 3) and Messines Company (Operation Telic 4), both of which were commanded by officers of the London Irish Rifles. Soldiers from the company also deployed to Afghanistan with Somme Company in 2007 (Operation Herrick 7), Amiens Company in 2010 (Operation Herrick 12) and Arras Company in 2011 (Operation Herrick 13).
The regiment's battle honours were as follows: